I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

ITHCWY Newsletter for May 2019

Limantour Spit

Limantour Spit

Limantour Spit

There is a shorter trail through the dunes before you get to the beach which we attempted a couple of years ago. The vegetation is spiky and unforgiving for small people. Better option is to hit the beach, turn right and walk as close to the end as you can. Five mile flat round trip. We saw harbor seals and one very decomposed whale.

Hike starts at: 38.025765, -122.884455. View in Google Earth.

Facebook Interoperability

In TechCrunch today Josh Constine gets friend portability for Facebook almost right:

"In other words, the government should pass regulations forcing Facebook to let you export your friend list to other social networks in a privacy-safe way. This would allow you to connect with or follow those people elsewhere so you could leave Facebook without losing touch with your friends. The increased threat of people ditching Facebook for competitors would create a much stronger incentive to protect users and society."

The problem is having a list of friends does me no good at all when none of them are on Google Plus, Diaspora or whatever.

What we need is legislation that forces interoperability. I can share with my friends via an open protocol, and Facebook is forced to both send and receive posts from other networks. This would actually create an opportunity for plausible competition in a way that a friend export could never do. Social networking should work like email, not CompuServe.

Tire Chalking Constitutional Amendment

US Constitutional Amendments by Century

We haven't passed a constitutional amendment since 1992. I have an idea or two, but given the length of the hiatus maybe we need to warm up with something easy.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that that chalking car tires to detect illegal parking violates fourth amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Civilization is collapsing a little in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Parking spaces are a limited resource and a fundamental role of local government is figuring out how to carve this kind of resource up equitably. Time limited spots are a pain, and if you don't like them you could complain to your representative or even run for office on a parking anarchy platform. Maybe you'd win and then good luck finding any parking at all. But if the courts decide to open up a tragedy of the commons enabling loophole then it must be time to slap them down.

The 28th amendment should explicitly allow tire chalking for parking enforcement. With the momentum from that we can start fixing some real problems.

ITHCWY Newsletter for April 2019

Nest learning thermostat, learning

Conway's Game of Death.

The site I had been using for global cloud cover images in Catfood Earth abruptly shut down recently so I've had to scramble to build a replacement service. This is live now and updates are available to download for Windows and Android.

More details about putting together the best possible clouds image for Catfood Earth here.

Previously:

Book reviews for April 2019

Updated on Sunday, May 5, 2019
The Quantum Magician (The Quantum Evolution Book 1) by Derek Künsken

The Quantum Magician (The Quantum Evolution Book 1) by Derek Künsken

3/5

 

Winter World (The Long Winter #1) by A.G. Riddle

Winter World (The Long Winter #1) by A.G. Riddle

3/5

 

Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds

Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds

3/5

 

Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren

Accelerate: Building and Scaling High-Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren

4/5

 

Catfood Earth 3.46

Improved clouds in Catfood Earth

Catfood Earth 3.46 is now available for download. Catfood Earth for Android 1.70 is available in the Google Play Store and will update automatically if you already have it installed.

This follows hot on the heels of the last release as the new clouds layer service running on this blog can update far more frequently than the source used prior to 3.45. You will now get a fresh helping of clouds every hour! Unrelated to this release I've improved the quality of the clouds image as well. If you're interested you can read about this in exhaustive detail here.

Improving the accuracy of the new Catfood Earth clouds layer

Equirectangular clouds for Catfood Earth

Last weekend I rushed out a new version of Catfood Earth because the clouds layer stopped working. I'd been using xplanet clouds which published a free 2048x1024 image infrequently and for some reason the site has vanished (probably because it was based on data from the Dundee Satellite Receiving Station which has apparently closed). The University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center makes global cloud data available for free for non-commercial use so I plugged this in to get Catfood Earth up and running.

Clouds started working again last Saturday but they were slightly out of position. With a pixel on a HD screen being up to 13 miles this isn't ideal. I hope nobody is using Catfood Earth for weather forecasting or anything too serious but this bothered me enough that I had to fix it. From today the clouds layer is as close to perfect as I can make it.

Mostly for my own sanity in case I ever need to fix this again here's the process.

I use the globalir product because it covers both day and night. This is available in a number of resolutions and you just need to download a set of tiles and stitch them together - I'm using 4096x4096 as the source for the new layer. Catfood Earth uses equirectangular images which have a 2:1 aspect ratio so to start with I resized this less at the equator and more at the poles and got an image that was almost right.

The source image is Spherical (or Web) Mercator which is useful for Google Maps but not right for Catfood Earth. I found a Stack Exchange post which pointed me in the right direction - use GDAL (Geospatial Data Abstraction Library) to transform the Mercator image to equirectangular by tagging the corners and then warping it. This got me closer but it still wasn't right. More googling led me to a post by Robert Simmon with a gdalwarp tip to use -te and -te_srs to force the output to match the dimensions of the input.

The last problem is that the Mercator image doesn't reach all the way to the poles. In this case there is no alternative but to invent some data and so I flip the top and bottom 50 pixels to cover the gap. You can see this if you look carefully but as this region is rendered over ice in Catfood Earth it won't make a difference in practice (and the old image used this trick as well for a greater proportion of the clouds).

One final visual tweak is to drop the lowest intensity pixels which end up blurring out the background in Catfood Earth. You can adjust the transparency and color used to render the layer to suit your tastes (the default is 50% transparency and a gray color for the clouds which I think strikes a good balance).

I also increased the frequency of updates so a new image is available every hour. I said last week that an advantage of this new system was that I wouldn't need to push a new version of Catfood Earth to tweak the cloud logic. That's partly true - you'll get the new improved image with the current version, but I stepped down the update frequency to once a day when I started using xplanet clouds. There will be another update soon to the Windows and Android versions to switch to hourly updates.

Catfood Earth 3.45

New cloud layer image in Catfood Earth

Catfood Earth 3.45 is now available to download. Catfood Earth for Android 1.60 is available on Google Play and will update automatically if you have it installed.

I only just released 3.44 with some timezone updates but in the past week the location I had been using for global cloud cover abruptly shut down. If you like up to date clouds you'll want to install the new versions as soon as possible. With this update I'm building a cloud image every three hours and serving through this blog (and thankfully CloudFlare) so any further changes should not require a code release.

Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay.

(Recent Photos)